Procter & Gamble Profit Rises, Raises Forecast
Procter & Gamble shares rose Wednesday after the company reported higher quarterly profit as cost controls helped offset soaring prices for oil and other commodities, and raised its forecast for its fiscal year.
"Consumers are looking for value in this economy, particularly in the U.S., and we're offering products that represent good value to the consumer, based on a combination of innovation and competitive pricing," said P&G Chief Financial Officer Clayton Daley, in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
The world's largest consumer products maker , with brands ranging from Pampers diapers to Olay skin-care products, reported earnings of $2.71 billion, or 82 cents a share, in its fiscal third quarter ended in March, compared with $2.51 billion, or 74 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.
P&G said net sales rose 9 percent to $20.5 billion.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 81 cents a share on sales of $20.4 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.
Like other consumer products makers, P&G has faced soaring costs for items like oil, the resin used in packaging, and other raw materials and has responded with cost controls and raising prices, and now expects its earnings for fiscal year 2008 to be in the range of $3.48 to $3.50 a share.
"We have been raising prices, because of increased commodity and energy costs, but at the end of the day, this is an industry phenomenon," Daley told CNBC. "Our competitors, private labels, have all increased prices, and so the important thing for us is the relative price of our products."
"We've been hoping for the last two years that commodities would begin to flatten, and they haven't, and we've seen them just continue to go up, so we're building our plans for the balance of this year and next year on the basis that commodity and energy prices will remain high," Daley said.
In February, P&G said it wasn't seeing signs that consumers are leaving its products for competitors.
In the latest period, net sales in its beauty segment rose 9 percent during the period, while its health and well-being division saw an 11 percent sales increase. Snacks, coffee and pet-care sales rose 11 percent as well, P&G said.
"There was rising investor concern heading into the quarter about the potential for slowing organic sales growth, particularly in light of weakness in more discretionary categories," Goldman Sachs analyst Andrew Sawyer wrote in a research note.
"We expect the stock to rally a bit in relief. ... Earnings were a penny ahead," noted Sawyer, who rates P&G's shares "attractive."
P&G said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of 76 cents to 78 cents a share. The company raised its full-year earnings forecast to $3.48 and $3.50 a share. The bottom end of its range was previously $3.46 a share.
"P&G has seen limited trade down to private label in its categories despite the U.S. economic slowdown," SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Chappell wrote in a research note.
"It is seeing a consumer shift to club, dollar and mass channels, but its overall growth rate in the United States is relatively unchanged in the past six months," wrote Chappell, who has a "neutral" rating on the stock.
P&G's shares were up $2.10, or 3.2 percent to $68 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
-Reuters contributed to this report.